By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Homeless Alliance is partnering with City Care services to host the Fresh Start art exhibit featuring the work of artists who are experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City.
The public is invited to attend this free event that will take place on Friday, August 5 at 1724 NW 4th Street from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The artists are participating in a program called “fresh stART,” sponsored by the Homeless Alliance and City Care, which is designed to provide homeless Oklahoma City citizens with a supportive environment for creating art.
City Care serves the community by feeding the homeless, providing affordable housing for low income individuals, and furnishing tutors and mentors to work with at risk, inner city children. Each day, its Day Shelter serves approximately 300 people.
The Day Shelter offers a respite where homeless patrons can go for a hot breakfast and lunch. In addition to art therapy, the shelter provides onsite resources such as computer clinics, job training and basic medical care.
Research shows that there are many benefits that result from open studio art programs. In addition to providing the artists with a potential source of income, art therapy programs allow them to have a creative outlet, help to manage emotional issues, and develop social skills while interacting with others in a positive environment. This is all accomplished while developing confidence and skills they can use in their daily lives.
“You see people who don’t normally communicate with others talking in class about art, and sharing techniques with one another,” said Kim Woods, deputy director at the Homeless Alliance. “Art allows people to temporarily escape their difficult situations and provides an opportunity to interact with peers in a positive environment. It really helps build people’s confidence.”
The exhibit will display a variety of art mediums including collage, watercolor, mixed media, acrylic and colored pencil.
Participating Fresh Start artists receive 80 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their artwork. The remaining 20 percent is used to cover the costs of matting the finished pieces.
The Fresh Start program provides studio time twice a week, on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, at the Day Shelter located on the WestTown Homeless Resource Campus. Art supplies for the program are donated by community members.
“The art class is therapy for me,” Rose, one of the featured artists, said. “It’s hard for me on the days when we don’t have class. It’s my favorite time of day, and keeps me cool, calm and collected.”
She said she never did art before she came to the Fresh Start program. “I came to class just to color and they told me that I could do whatever kind of art that I wanted to do, so I started trying different things.
“It really motivated me when Derek (one of her classmates) saw my first painting. I thought it was the ugliest thing I ever saw. But he told me ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ I decided to try to sell it, and ended up selling it for $75.”
Currently, Rose is working on a series of mixed media art pieces featuring a character she has modeled off of herself, named Rosita. The paintings include found objects, usually fabric, to create a woman wearing high fashion styles.
“I am living through Rosita. The places she goes, I want to go. The outfits she wears, I want to wear,’ Rose said.
Fresh Start offered a series of classes where participants learned about different famous artists.
“I like doing art in Rothko and Van Gough style. They are my favorite,” Rose added.
“Right now my goal is to visit my grandson in New Mexico. I plan to save the money that I make from the August show to visit him.”
The Fresh Start program is in need of volunteers to help with the art classes. The program is also is in need of supplies such as watercolor paper, paper towels, and paper plates, used for mixing paint. These items can be dropped of at the Homeless Alliance, Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For more information about how to get involved, call 405-415-8410 or visit www.homelessalliance.org.